Manganese-Aluminum-Based Magnets

Dartmouth College
Nanocrystalline t-MnAl Permanent Magnets
Image of Dartmouth's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$397,433
Location: 
Hanover, NH
Project Term: 
01/01/2012 to 03/30/2013
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Critical Need: 
Rare earths are naturally occurring minerals with unique magnetic properties that are used in electric vehicle (EV) motors and wind generators. Because these minerals are expensive and in limited supply, alternative technologies must be developed to replace rare-earth-based magnets in motors and generators. Alternatives to rare earths will contribute to the cost-effectiveness of EVs and wind generators, facilitating their widespread use and drastically reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Dartmouth is developing specialized alloys with magnetic properties superior to the rare earths used in today's best magnets. EVs and renewable power generators typically use rare earths to turn the axles in their electric motors due to the magnetic strength of these minerals. However, rare earths are difficult and expensive to refine. Dartmouth will swap rare earths for a manganese-aluminum alloy that could demonstrate better performance and cost significantly less. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop an easily scalable process that enables the widespread use of low-cost and abundant materials for the magnets used in EVs and renewable power generators.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, Dartmouth's project would result in a permanent magnet that contains no rare earth minerals and could help power a renewable power generator or an EV motor as well as any of today's best commercial magnets.
Security: 
The U.S. produces a small fraction globally of industrial rare earths. Developing alternatives to the use of rare earths has the potential to reduce our dependence on these materials and will have a positive impact on our national economic and energy security.
Environment: 
The transportation and electric power sectors account for nearly 75% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions each year. Better magnets would support the widespread use of EVs and wind power, significantly reducing these emissions.
Economy: 
The U.S. spends nearly $1 billion per day on imported petroleum. Improvements in magnet technology would enable a broader use of EVs, which would help insulate our economy from unexpected spikes in the price of oil.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Mark Johnson
Project Contact: 
Prof. Ian Baker